Besides my jingling coins, I also carried a tuna fish salad sandwich in a small greasy paper bag and my autograph book. To quickly lighten my burden, I usually ate my sandwich as soon as I transferred at 161st Street for the cross-town bus. I also carried several dozen self-addressed penny postcards or the pre game business at hand.
This had to do with my being an autograph hound. That meant I’d arrive at the House That Ruth Built at about nine bells, just when the visiting players and the hometown heroes would arrive. Then I’d join the desperate, bustling dozens of similar fanatics trying to get close enough to The Mick, The Scooter, Yogi, Battling Billy, Steady Eddie, The Chief, or whomever we could intercept during their thirty-yard walk between the players parking lot and the cops who kept us away from the players entrance.
The same relentless elbow-flailing, pushing-often-coming-to-punching melee would be repeated when the visitors bus arrived.
“Who’d ya get?”
“Aw, he’s no big deal. I got a million of him. He always stops and signs for everybody.”
“Who’d ya get?”
“Where? How? When?”
“Just now. He took the train and got off the el.”
“And he was signing?”
Some of us would then make a mad-dash for the train station at River Avenue and 161st Street in hopes of intercepting Stengel before he ducked into one of the Stadium’s private entrances. I never did catch up with the wily Ol’ Perfessor. In fact, the only celebrity subway rider whose autograph I ever did capture was on Old Timer’s Day when I came across a squat, burly, middle-aged man, and asked, “Who are you?”
Turned out to be Jimmy Foxx.
When players wouldn’t pause to sign, we’d try to thrust a postcard into their hands, pockets, belts, whatever. As a last resort, we tossed postcards through open windows on the team bus. About fifty percent of the postcards were returned with bonafide signatures. The rest vanished.